Welcome to the easy-browsing, ultra-informing College Checklist. Click on your year to get started.
 

Now we’re talking.

Junior year, Fall semester. Two years to go until college. It sounds like plenty of time, and in fact it is – as long as you keep up with your preparation. The boxes below will help with that. And, again, we’ve put them roughly in order of importance. Can’t get to everything? Make sure you at least do the first few.

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    Look closely at your course-load.


     

    Now that you’re a Junior, the classes you’re taking are even more important. Consider adding some AP courses to your schedule, and talk to your teachers and counselor to make sure you’re getting the best preparation for college. And don’t forget – colleges check out other stuff too, like extracurricular activities, volunteer work and community outreach. So be good all around.


     
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    Inquire about Advanced Placement.


     

    There may be AP or summer college courses available to you. If so, you’ll want to take advantage, which means you’ll need to know about it. (And you *do* want to take advantage: It’s highly likely that whatever college you choose will offer credit or advanced placement – or both – if you can score well on your AP Exams.)

     
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    Take (and study for, and register for) the PSAT and NMSQT.


    That would be the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, of course. Taking these has got to be done (unless you did it already) and October’s a good time to do it. Reason? You’re not rusty from summer anymore, or burnt out by finals. Oh, and don’t forget your calculator.

    The College Board: About the PSAT

     
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    Identify sources of college and career information.


    A good place to start is at your school. Start looking through guidance publications, college catalogs and guidebooks. The U.S. Dept. of Education has a page of their picks for your best resources, which is a great start. For more info specifically on careers in accounting, including your options to do everything from saving the planet to busting the bad guys, check out Career Options.

    U.S. Department of Education: Plan for College

     
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    List your top ten potential colleges.


     

    Plan to apply to at least three to five schools. (Why not all ten? Well, applications can be costly, not to mention time-consuming.) Talk to your parents and your high school counselor about where you want to go. They may have advice on getting there. They may have more ideas about what’s a good fit for your goals and personality. They’ll *definitely* be interested to know what you’re thinking. Also, as you may have noticed, the Internet is a great research buddy too. Start with the schools’ homepages and go from there.

     
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    Research college fairs and financial aid/parent nights.


    There are probably some, if not lots, in your area. Find out dates and locations, and make sure your schedule is open. Not only will you find stuff out at these events, you’ll meet other people who are on the same path as you – plus the kind of people who help people such as yourself. Bring a parent or friend to make the most of it.

    And for the largest virtual college/career fair of all, see CollegeWeekLive. It’s an awesome event with an awesome sponsor – us – and gives you the chance to not only visit the schools you’re considering virtually, but also chat live with those schools’ representatives. Plus find out about millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships. There are two major events a year: one in Spring (March, specifically) and the Fall one coming up in November. See you there!

    CollegeWeekLive

     
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    Get your hands on a FAFSA.


    That, as you might know, is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you want help from the government in paying for school, you want one of these. It’s available, along with other free financial aid materials, online or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). (Just hold onto it for now, though. You won’t be submitting it until next year.)

    FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

     
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    Make sure you’re all $$$et.


     

    There aren’t tons of requirements for federal and alternative student loans, but there are a few. Now’s the time to verify that you’re eligible for the ones you’ve got your eye on.

    Federal Student Aid Primer

     

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